Conference USA Football Bowl Notebook

Go C-USA! Keyarris Garrett
Keyarris Garrett

Dec. 12, 2012

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After a 4-1 showing in bowl games last year, Conference USA will once again have five teams playing in the postseason. C-USA Champion Tulsa will play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and will be joined by UCF (Beef 'O' Brady's), East Carolina (R+L Carriers New Orleans), SMU (Sheraton Hawai'i) and Rice (Bell Helicopter Armed Forces) in bowl games this holiday season.


Friday, December 21 St. Petersburg, Florida
7:30 p.m. (EST) Tropicana Field (33,000)
All-Time Series: Ball State leads 2-1
Last Meeting: Ball State 21, UCF 17 (Nov. 13, 2004)
Television: ESPN
Announcers: Dave Neal (PxP), Andre Ware
Desmond Howard (AN) , Cara Capuano (SL)

UCF (9-4, 7-1 in C-USA)
Head Coach: George O'Leary (New Hampshire '69)
Career Record: 111-87 (16th year)
Record at UCF: 59-54 (9th year)
Offense: Multiple
Defense: Multiple, 4-3
Leading Passer: Blake Bortles (229-of-366, 2,787 yds., 22 TD)
Leading Rusher: Latavius Murray (177 att., 1,035 yds., 14 TD)
Leading Receiver: J.J. Worton (41 rec., 562 yds., 4 TD)
Leading Tackler: Kemal Ishmael (116 tackles, 63 solo)
Last Game: Tulsa 33, UCF 27 (OT) (Dec. 1)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2010 Liberty (UCF 10, Georgia 6)
All-Time Bowl Record: 6-2

NOTING THE KNIGHTS: UCF is embarking on its fifth trip to a bowl game in the last eight years and its second trip to St. Petersburg (lost to Rutgers in 2009)....A victory will give the Knights their third 10-win season since 2007 and fourth in school history....UCF had a league-high six first team All-Conference selections, including Defensive Player of the Year Kemal Ishmael (team-high 116 tackles) and Special Teams Player of the Year Quincy McDuffie (second in FBS with 34.2 yards kickoff return average)....Despite missing 2+ games with injury, senior RB Latavius Murray became the seventh player in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.

Ball State (9-3, 6-2 in MAC)
Head Coach: Pete Lembo (Georgetown '92)
Career Record: 94-45 (12th year)
Record at BSU: 15-9 (2nd year)
Offense: Multiple
Defense: 4-3
Leading Passer: Keith Wenning (279-of-426, 2,878 yds., 22 TD)
Leading Rusher: Jahwan Edwards (218 att., 1,321 yds., 14 TD)
Leading Receiver: Willie Snead (82 rec., 1,070 yds., 7 TD)
Leading Tackler: Travis Freeman (119 tackles, 44 solo)
Last Game: Ball State 31, at Miami (Ohio) 24 (Nov. 23)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2008 GMAC (Tulsa 45, Ball State 13)
All-Time Bowl Record: 0-5

NOTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State's last bowl appearance came against a C-USA school in 2008, when the 22nd-ranked Cardinals fell to Tulsa, 45-13, in the GMAC Bowl...Ball State's three losses on the year came against Clemson, Kent State and Northern Illinois (a combined 33-5) before going on a roll, winning six straight games to close out the year....The Cardinals have a pair of first team All-MAC receivers in Willie Snead and Jamill Smith. Quarterback Keith Wenning earned second team All-Conference honors....BSU owns one win over a Florida team this season, defeating South Florida, 31-27 on Sept. 22.

GAME NOTES: This is the fifth year of the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl and C-USA has been a part of each game....East Carolina becomes the fifth different team from the East Division of Conference USA to play in the bowl....The game is played at Tropicana Field, the home of the 2008 American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays, and is the only college football game played each year at the facility.


Saturday, December 22 New Orleans, Louisiana
11 a.m. (CST) Mercedes-Benz Stadium (71,000)
All-Time Series: Louisiana-Lafayette leads 6-4
Last Meeting: Southwestern Louisiana 16, East Carolina 14 (Oct. 12, 1985)
Television: ESPN
Announcers: Beth Mowins (PxP), Joey Galloway (AN), Quint Kessenich (SL)

East Carolina (8-4, 7-1 in C-USA)
Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill (East Carolina, '80)
Career Record: 19-18 (3rd year)
Record at ECU: 18-18 (3rd year)
Offense: Spread
Defense: 3-4
Leading Passer: Shane Carden (248-of-371, 2,838 yds., 21 TD)
Leading Rusher: Vintavious Cooper (191 att., 1,030 yds., 7 TD)
Leading Receiver: Justin Hardy (83 rec., 1,046 yds., 10 TD)
Leading Tackler: Damon Magazu (72 tackles, 37 solo)
Last Game: East Carolina 65, Marshall 59 (2OT) (Nov. 23)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2010 Military (Maryland 51, East Carolina 20)
All-Time Bowl Record: 8-9

NOTING THE PIRATES: After a one-year absence, East Carolina will play postseason football for the sixth time in seven seasons....The Pirates have won five of their last six games, scoring 41 or more points in four of those wins...Running back Vintavious Cooper garnered the league's Newcomer of the Year honor. He became the first ECU player to rush for 1,000 yards (1,030) since 2009, topping the 100-yard mark in four games....Quarterback Shane Carden ranks second in C-USA in passing efficiency (144.93) and sixth in total offense (242.58). He completed 248-of-371 attempts for 2,838 yards and 21 passing touchdowns, while leading the squad with eight rushing touchdowns.

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4, 6-2 in Sun Belt)
Head Coach: Mark Hudspeth (Delta State '91)
Career Record: 83-29 (9th year)
Record at ULL: 17-8 (2nd year)
Offense: Multiple
Defense: Hybrid 4-3
Leading Passer: Terrance Broadway (161-of-245, 2,053 yds., 13 TD)
Leading Rusher: Alonzo Harris (149 att., 761 yds., 8 TD)
Leading Receiver: Harry Peoples (61 rec., 774 yds., 5 TD)
Leading Tackler: Justin Anderson (82 tackles, 55 solo)
Last Game: Louisiana-Lafayette 35, at FAU 21 (Dec. 1)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2011 New Orleans (ULL 32, San Diego St. 30)
All-Time Bowl Record: 1-0

NOTING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: In last season's R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the school's first-ever bowl appearance, the Ragin' Cajuns defeated San Diego State, 32-30 on Brett Baer's 50-yard field goal as time expired....Baer was named first team All-Sun Belt as both a kicker and a punter this season....Quarterback Terrance Broadway is a transfer from Houston, where he started a pair of games for the Cougars in 2010 after Case Keenum was injured....ULL averages 443.6 yards and 34.3 points per game.

GAME NOTES: Conference USA will be a part of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for the ninth time in the bowl's 12 years....This year's game will mark the first daytime game in New Orleans Bowl history, with an 11 a.m. Saturday kickoff scheduled....East Carolina will be the fifth different C-USA school to play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.


Monday, December 24 Honolulu, Hawai'i
7 p.m. (CST) Aloha Stadium (50,000)
All-Time Series: Fresno State leads 5-1
Last Meeting: Fresno State 42, SMU 0 (Oct. 30, 2004)
Television: ESPN
Announcers: Carter Blackburn (PxP), Kelly Stouffer (AN), Kaylee Hartung (SL)

SMU (6-6, 5-3 in C-USA)
Head Coach: June Jones (N.Y. State Regents College)
Career Record: 106-75 (14th year)
Record at SMU: 30-34 (5th year)
Offense: Run and Shoot
Defense: 3-4
Leading Passer: Garrett Gilbert (254-of-478, 2,720 yds., 14 TD)
Leading Rusher: Zach Line (258 att., 1,207 yds., 12 TD)
Leading Receiver: Darius Johnson (61 rec., 747 yds., 4 TD)
Leading Tackler: Randall Joyner (89 tackles, 49 solo)
Last Game: at SMU 35, Tulsa 27 (Nov. 24)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2011 BBVA Compass (SMU 28, Pittsburgh 6)
All-Time Bowl Record: 6-6-1

NOTING THE MUSTANGS: SMU is in a bowl game for the fourth straight season, the first time in school history that has happened....Running back Zach Line was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 1,207 rushing yards. He is the second player in SMU history and fourth back in C-USA annals to run for more than 1,000 yards in three seasons. He ran for 12 TDs this year, giving him 45 in his career, second-most in C-USA history....A victory would give the Mustangs four straight winning seasons for the first time since a seven-year run from 1980-86.

Fresno State (9-3, 7-1 in Mountain West)
Head Coach: Tim DeRuyter (Air Force '85)
Career Record: 9-3 (1st year)
Record at FSU: 9-3 (1st year)
Offense: Spread
Defense: Multiple, 3-4
Leading Passer: Derek Carr (311-of-457, 3,742 yds., 36 TD)
Leading Rusher: Robbie Rouse (269 att., 1,468 yds., 12 TD)
Leading Receiver: Davante Adams (89 rec., 1,168 yds., 13 TD)
Leading Tackler: Phillip Thomas (82 tackles, 64 solo)
Last Game: Fresno State 48, Air Force 15 (Nov. 24)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2010 Humanitarian (No. Illinois 40, Fresno St. 17)
All-Time Bowl Record: 12-12

NOTING THE BULLDOGS: Fresno State shared the Mountain West Conference Championship with Boise State and San Diego State. It was the Bulldogs first conference title since 1999....Fresno State will be looking to snap a three-game bowl losing streak that dates back to 2007....RB Robbie Rouse is 13th in the nation in rushing, averaging 122.3 yards per game and has topped the 100-yard mark in nine of 12 games....QB Derek Carr, younger brother of former Fresno State star QB David Carr, led the Mountain West in passing at 311.3 yards per game with 36 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

GAME NOTES: The Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl has gained a reputation for offensive shootouts, with the winning team topping the 40-point mark in eight of the last nine years, while the losing team has scored 38 or more points four times....Conference USA teams are 6-2 in previous appearances in the Hawai'i Bowl, including wins in each of the last four games, two against foes (East Carolina over No. 22 Boise State in 2007 and Tulsa over No. 25 Hawai'i in 2010)....SMU will be the first C-USA school to make multiple appearances in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, which it has been partnered with in nine of its 11 years. The Mustangs defeated Nevada in the 2009 game.


Saturday, December 29 Fort Worth, Texas
10:45 a.m. (CST) Amon. G. Carter Stadium (45,000)
All-Time Series: Air Force leads 5-1
Last Meeting: Air Force 22, Rice 16 (Nov. 21, 1998)
Television: ESPN
Announcers: Beth Mowins (PxP), Joey Galloway (AN), Lewis Johnson (SL)

Rice (6-6, 4-4 in C-USA)
Head Coach: David Bailiff (Texas State, '81)
Career Record: 50-59 (9th year)
Record at Rice: 29-44 (6th year)
Offense: Spread
Defense: 4-2-5
Leading Passer: Taylor McHargue (188-of-317, 2,178 yds., 11 TD)
Leading Rusher: Charles Ross (131 att., 743 yds., 4 TD)
Leading Receiver: Sam McGuffie (49 rec., 523 yds., 5 TD)
Leading Tackler: Paul Porras (86 tackles, 59 solo)
Last Game: Rice 33, at UTEP 24 (Nov. 24)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2008 Texas (Rice 38, Western Michigan 14)
All-Time Bowl Record: 5-4

NOTING THE OWLS: Rice enters the game having won four straight and five of their last six games, with the only loss being by four points at C-USA Champion Tulsa....The Owls have a balanced attack that is averaging 421.1 yards per game on offense, including 201.3 yards rushing and 219.8 yards passing....Junior K Chris Boswell has made six field goals of 50 yards or longer this season, the most in the FBS....Taylor McHargue leads all C-USA quarterbacks in rushing with 628 yards and has thrown for 2,178 yards. He has thrown 11 TD passes and run for 11 scores.

Air Force (6-6, 5-3 in Mountain West)
Head Coach: Troy Calhoun (Air Force '89)
Career Record: 47-30 (6th year)
Record at AFA: 47-30 (6th year)
Offense: Multiple
Defense: Multiple
Leading Passer: Connor Dietz (67-of-108, 1,127 yds., 8 TD)
Leading Rusher: Cody Getz (191 att., 1,213 yds., 9 TD)
Leading Receiver: Ty MacArthur (24 rec., 411 yds., 2 TD)
Leading Tackler: Austin Niklas (114 tackles, 63 solo)
Last Game: at Fresno State 48, Air Force 15 (Nov. 24)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2011 Military (Toledo 42, Air Force 41)
All-Time Bowl Record: 10-11-1

NOTING THE FALCONS: Air Force will be making its sixth consecutive bowl appearance....The Falcons are 1-1 all-time vs. C-USA schools in the postseason, splitting games vs. Houston in back-to-back Armed Forces Bowls (2008-09)...Six of Air Force's last seven bowl games have been decided by seven points or less....The Falcons are second in the FBS in rushing this season, averaging 328.8 yards per game. Individually, running back Cody Getz ranks 20th in the nation in rushing, averaging 120.7 yards while scoring nine touchdowns.

GAME NOTES: Conference USA has been as part of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in all but one year of the bowl's 10-year existence....This year marks the return to a completely-renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth....Four of the last five Armed Forces Bowls have been decided by less than a touchdown....Three of the previous six games between the schools were played as conference contests when Rice and Air Force were members of the Western Athletic Conference in the late 1990s.


Monday, December 31 Memphis, Tennessee
2:30 p.m. (CST) Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (61,000)
All-Time Series: Iowa State leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Iowa State 38, Tulsa 23 (Sept. 1, 2012)
Television: ESPN
Announcers: Mark Jones (PxP), Brock Huard (AN), Jessica Mendoza (SL)

Tulsa (10-3, 7-1 in C-USA)
Head Coach: Bill Blankenship (Tulsa, '79)
Career Record: 18-8 (2nd year)
Record at Tulsa: 18-8 (2nd year)
Offense: Spread No Huddle
Defense: 4-3
Leading Passer: Cody Green (217-of-396, 2,499 yds., 17 TD)
Leading Rusher: Trey Watts (161 att., 959 yds., 3 TD)
Leading Receiver: Keyarris Garrett (64 rec., 826 yds., (9 TD)
Leading Tackler: DeAundre Brown (125 tackles, 81 solo)
Last Game: at Tulsa 33, UCF 27 (ot) (Dec. 1)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2011 Armed Forces (BYU 24, Tulsa 21)
All-Time Bowl Record: 5-6-1

NOTING THE GOLDEN HURRICANE: A victory will allow Tulsa to match the school record for victories in a season (11), set in 2008....This year marks the fourth 10-win season in six years for the Golden Hurricane....TU leads C-USA in rushing offense at 240.2 yards per game, with three players that have run for 765 yards or more....The Hurricane led C-USA in total defense, allowing 353.9 yards per game....TU is third in the nation in sacks and fourth in tackles for loss....This is Tulsa's second rematch game in a row. The Hurricane defeated UCF twice in 15 days and will now seek revenge on its opening day loss at Iowa State. Tulsa will also host ISU next September.

Iowa State (6-6, 3-6 in Big 12)
Head Coach: Paul Rhoads (Missouri Western '89)
Career Record: 24-26 (4th year)
Record at ISU: 24-26 (4th year)
Offense: Multiple
Defense: 4-3
Leading Passer: Steele Jantz (163-of-262, 1,562 yds., 13 TD)
Leading Rusher: Shontrelle Johnson (115 att., 504 yds., 2 TD)
Leading Receiver: Aaron Horne (38 rec., 365 yds., 3 TD)
Leading Tackler: A.J. Klein (98 tackles, 53 solo)
Last Game: West Virginia 31, at Iowa State 24 (Nov. 23)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2011 Pinstripe (Rutgers 27, Iowa State 13)
All-Time Bowl Record: 3-8

NOTING THE CYCLONES: All six of the Cyclones losses came to teams that will play in bowl games....Iowa State ranked third in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing 23.3 points per game....Linebacker A.J. Klein was named first team All-Big 12 for the second straight season. Klein had a team-high 98 tackles and his four career interception returns for touchdowns equal the NCAA record for linebackers.

GAME NOTES: After a one-year absence, C-USA's champion returns to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl as it has all but year since the league's first football season in 1996....C-USA teams have an all-time record of 11-9 in the game....Tulsa's only other AZLB appearance was in 2005 when the Hurricane defeated Fresno State, 31-24.



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